Bettering connection with Australia’s longest tunnel
Written by: Mitch Hanlon
Through a combined $4.53 billion investment from the NSW State Government and Australian Federal Government to upgrade the Great Western Highway, funding has been committed to the construction of tunnels at Blackheath and Mount Victoria. There are now investigations into joining the tunnels to create an 11km tunnel between Katoomba and Lithgow. Deputy Premier of NSW John Barilaro said “this proposal would see those tunnels joined together, creating the longest road tunnel in Australia” transforming the state through better connection between the Central West and East Coast.
Described as “an immensely complex and ambitious plan” Barilaro said the Government are “working hard to make it happen because we know what a difference it will make to the lives of commuters, to regional businesses who need access to Sydney and vice versa, to freight companies, to families visiting relatives and to holiday makers”. The importance of this project is immense for those who utilise the Great Western Highway on a daily basis, minimising congestion for commuters, tourists and freight workers.
Freight transporters travel the Blue Mountains in their hundreds every day, transporting food, minerals and equipment across the state to Sydney. At current, Victoria Pass, a road renowned for accidents, presents difficulties for b-doubles as the pasafe is too tight to negotiate. Congestion along Victoria Pass has also increased with the flood damage and subsequent roadworks taking place on the alternate route, Bells Line Road. A tunnel would provide a much faster and safer road for freight and commuters alike.
The proposed project requires further technical studies and strategic design to determine the viability of the longer tunnel. Over June and July, air quality monitors will be installed at key points along the proposed corridor, gathering information about the existing roadside air quality and helping with determining ventilation requirements.
$2.5 billion is committed to the existing plans for the separate tunnels, set to commence construction in 2023. “The NSW Government is committed to building a safer and stronger regional NSW” says Barilaro “and this corridor will enhance the state, significantly cutting travel times between the city and the bush” better connecting communities with safer, efficient and reliable travel.